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Oh, the pop-up phenomenon…

“…Pop-up retail, also known as pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces…” *

This article first appeared on the members’ blog of the Australian Gift & Homewares Association, 27th February 2013.


Call it what you will – Australia has certainly embraced the phenomenon of pop up shopping. In 2004, website first coined the term “pop-up retail” – posing the question “if new products can come and go, why can’t the stores that display them do the same…. ?” A whole 5 years earlier, Los Angeles agency Vacant had started using unusual (and unloved) spaces for temporary retail events. Vacant now takes credit as the “pioneer of pop-up retail” – and continues to work with brands on eye-catching and un-conventional installations.

Which is what good a pop up shop is all about… not only short-term (maybe open for a month, a weekend or just an evening)… but also offering something different to a “traditional retail” experience. Many businesses use pop ups to talk with their customers (not to take their cash) – to showcase a range or product, announce a new initiative or location – or to consolidate their brand loyalty by being cool and topical…  And even in a typical “Pop Up Sale” (which seems to be the latest name for a warehouse or clearance sale)… there is often an element of surprise or difference to the norm.

The very concept of pop-up has been around for many years – essentially it is another evolution in “temporary retail”. Aren’t those “car-boot sales” (once a month in your shopping centre car park…) and the good old Town Hall events (pre-season ski wear or “latest shipment of Italian suits, hot off the docks….”) just classic forms of temporary retail ? And the humble Lemonade Stand ? They’ve been with us for generations and are still around of course (but not so on-trend as a Pop Up Shop). Even trade shows such as the AGHA Home & Giving Fairs could meet the criteria of “pop up”… short-term and intensive sales events, showcasing new products and building on customer relationships…

The difference between traditional temporary retail and pop up shopping is probably in the “packaging”. Many successful pop ups have employed marketeers and designers to bring in extra “zing” and energy – especially for events who were out to make a statement about their brand. Bizarre locations, creative installations and some innovative promotions shout out “hey, look at us – we’re here and you’ll want us – but be quick !”

I embrace the whole “pop up” concept ! And that’s what these AGHA blog posts will be about – tracking and sharing the passion of this evolution in temporary retail. Along the way I hope to discuss how pop-up retailing applies to our local gift and homewares industry, as complementary initiatives to the trade fairs. I’d say there are many similarities between those fairs and pop ups – and it’s certainly worth considering the opportunities that pop up shops may offer.


* so says Wikipedia


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